- The Boston Celtics seek their fifth win in six games as they visit the Miami Heat
- It’s the first meeting between the two teams since last year’s Eastern Conference Finals
- Check the odds, analysis and betting preview below
The injuries have been piling on, but the Boston Celtics have continued to prevail. We’ll see how their depleted roster and young stars do in their next challenge — their first encounter with the team that knocked them out in the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago, the Miami Heat.
Celtics vs Heat Odds
|Boston Celtics||+2.5 (-110)||+116||Ov 218 (-110)|
|Miami Heat||-2.5 (-110)||-136||Un 218 (-110)|
Odds from FanDuel taken January 5. Tip-off is Wednesday at 7:30pm ET
The short turnaround from NBA Finals to regular season clearly has the Heat playing catchup. They’ve yet to put together two wins in a row this season, and will try for the first time Wednesday night as 2.5-point home favorites.
Surging And Hurting
The Celtics have won four of their last five contests, their lone loss coming to the Pistons in the only game they were held under 100 points. In each of the four wins, Boston has scored at least 116 points. They hammered the Toronto Raptors Monday night, powered by a 40-bomb from Jayson Tatum, in a 126-114 win that was never really close in the second half.
Jayson Tatum stepped up for us tonight to propel us to a 126-114 victory over the Raptors while much of our team was sidelined. pic.twitter.com/73g8wni9QG
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 5, 2021
That win came despite the Celtics without their starting backcourt of Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart. Walker has yet to play this season because of a wonky knee that hobbled him all of last year, while Smart had a thumb sprain. He’s questionable Wednesday against Miami.
Throw in an ankle injury to veteran Jeff Teague, and Boston is exceptionally thin at the guard spots.
22 points on 9/11 shooting in the first half from Jaylen Brown, showcasing self-creation, attacking off the catch and off-movement shooting: pic.twitter.com/2u51KtB9iH
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 3, 2021
While Brad Stevens-coached teams have traditionally held steady thanks to their defense, the offense has been outscoring their problems. As a team, Boston is allowing 112.5 points a game, but they’re just outside the top-10 in points at over 113 a contest, while shooting a stellar 48.8% from the field (5th in the NBA), and a stellar 40.2% from three-point range (3rd).
They’re being paced by their stellar wings in Jaylen Brown, who leads the team in scoring at 26.7 points, shooting 57.7% from the field and 42.9% from deep, and Tatum, averaging 26.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists, on 46.7% from the field and 42.7% from three.
Heat Need To Heat Up
It hasn’t been an ideal start for the Miami Heat, but you can forgive their alternating win-loss pattern to several factors, staring with the end-of-season hangover in losing to the Lakers in the 2020 NBA Finals.
They’ve also had a tougher than expected slate, having to play the Bucks twice, as well as the Dallas Mavericks and the surprising Orlando Magic.
The Bucks set 3 NBA records during their 144-97 beatdown on the Heat
29 3PTS in a game
16 3PTS in a half
12 players with a 3PT*
* Giannis was the only Buck without a three pic.twitter.com/z6Qb0cKogh
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 30, 2020
They’ve also not had Jimmy Butler healthy, as he’s missed games while dealing with an ankle injury.
As per usual, their defense continues to be hard-nosed and part of who they are. Despite their 3-3 mark, they are ranked ninth overall in defensive rating.
Jimmy Butler says, "We know the team that we can become. That we will become."@5ReasonsSports
— Brady Hawk (@BradyHawk305) January 5, 2021
But their woes are on the other end of the floor, where they rank 26th in offensive rating, putting up 105.8 points a game, which is the fourth-worst mark in the NBA.
While they’re sixth in the league in field goal shooting at 48.5%, the Heat are dead last in field goal attempts per game, the only team in the league not cracking 80 a night. While they need to pick up the pace somewhat, it’s also attributed to the fact that Miami leads the league in turnovers at over 19 a contest.
It was a Bam near perfect night for our big man
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 5, 2021
Minus Bam Adebayo, who leads the team in scoring at better than 19 points a contest, every other key player from year ago is scoring at a lower clip. The most significant is Butler, who’s gone from 19+ last season to just over 10 points a game, and Kendrick Nunn, who’s at 5.2 points a game after averaging better than 15 a night last season.
What’s The Best Bet?
At some point, the Heat are going to get back to Miami Heat basketball, and this matchup with the Celtics might be the tonic they need to awaken from their slumber. Boston’s recent streak only has one significant win, against the 5-2 Pacers. Their other three wins have come against three teams with a combined four wins between them.
Tatum and Brown should be able to hold their own, but the lack of depth against one of the elite teams in the NBA will probably be the difference.
The pick: Heat -2.5 (-110)
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